Project Leapfrog

Committed to Being the Most Electric Fleet Management Company 

66 million (or one-out-of-five) vehicles in the United States are owned and operated by a fleet. With these numbers in mind, Merchants Fleet’s leadership realized the huge environmental impact FMCs could make by helping clients adopt electric vehicles (EVs). In 2021, this mission became a $2.5 billion commitment to EVs – with Merchants being BrightDrop’s first FMC customer with orders for 12,600 Zevo 600 and 5,400 Zevo models, and orders for more than 22,000 additional EV models.

Read the Project Leapfrog Story


Employes that used Merchants' EV incentives since 2022
kWh used to charge employee EVs at Merchants' HQ since 2021
Emission-free miles powered by Merchants' EVSE

Project Leapfrog Takes Shape

Merchants’ EV experts can explain the benefits of an electric fleet compared to one that runs on gasoline or diesel, but EV myths, lack of experience, and resistance to change have given fleet managers hesitation in making the switch. Brendan P. Keegan, Merchants Fleet Chairman, CEO & President knew exactly what needed to be done. “At Merchants, we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk,” said Keegan, “That’s why we are switching our own executive fleet over to EVs and implementing charging infrastructure at our headquarters and our dealership to encourage employees to make the switch, too.”

With Keegan’s goal of leading by example in mind, a plan dubbed Project Leapfrog was developed to show fleets that if their fleet management company (FMC) could adopt EVs, this is entirely possible to be done within their own fleet, too. From a C-Suite pilot to widespread adoption throughout the company, Merchants wanted to create the blueprint for EV fleet adoption.

Phase 1: Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Installation

To greatly simplify the complex process of EV fleet adoption, it all boils down to two critical components for every type of fleet – acquiring the appropriate EVs for your drivers’ needs and implementing the right electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) for your use case.

Instead of selecting a single EVSE provider for every charging station, Merchants opted to install a selection of the best equipment available from ChargePoint, Enel X, and EVgo. Co-managed by the EV team and Merchants’ facilities manager, a total of 10 ports were installed for employee use at the Hooksett, NH Merchants Fleet office, and four Enel X ports were installed at the Merchants Auto dealership.

In addition to supporting the charging needs of Merchants Fleet employees, the Project Leapfrog EVSE installation provides hands on experience for the entire company. Unlike other FMCs or EVSE providers that work with one brand of equipment, Merchants’ fleet consultants can provide experienced recommendations to fleet managers on what could work best for their fleet.

Phase 2: The Shift to an Executive EV Fleet

A Merchants Fleet executive benefit is the use of a company vehicle. Through Project Leapfrog, the entire executive fleet was switched over to EVs, and now consists of electric vehicle models that range from Ford to Tesla. Not only does this help achieve internal ESG goals for Merchants, but the executive feedback can be channeled to consultants for recommendations based on ride quality, charging speed, charging compatibility, maintenance, and more.

As the leadership team showed up to the office driving EVs, there was a tangible culture shift where employees wanted to learn more about them. Parking next to an EV helps demystify it for someone without experience and helps reduce hesitation for someone thinking about making the shift. This process can easily be mirrored at other organizations, especially ones with an internal fleet that spends time at a centralized location.

“I couldn’t wait to experience an EV for myself and now I can better dispel myths – especially around range anxiety.”

Diana Holland
VP Strategic Pursuits

“I have been an EV driver for over five years now. Beyond being an early adopter, I see EVs fitting into a broader sustainability strategy for my lifestyle which involves localized power generation through solar and a reduced overall household carbon footprint. If you’re considering the switch to an EV, don’t worry about range – select the vehicle that matches 80% of your lifestyle needs and the rest will fall into place.”

Hari Nayar
VP Electrification & Sustainability

“One of the big advantages of driving an EV is that they are environmentally friendly as they produce zero emissions. They tend to be quieter than traditional gas cars and electric cars can have low costs since they require no maintenance and charging an EV is cheaper than gas. They also have instant torque, which means they can accelerate quickly and smoothly. Personally, I think it is an eco-friendly and cost-effective mode of transportation.”

Kartheek Bajjuru
Salesforce Developer

“The free-to-use EV chargers at headquarters have saved me over $500 in fuel costs in the two months since purchasing my EV. The employee rental program encouraged me to make the switch and I’m so happy that I did. I drive a lot of miles during the year and it’s great to do that without creating tailpipe emissions.”

Eric Goldfisher
Manager Content & Campaigns

“I’m really excited to be on the cutting edge of electrification and for the opportunity to evangelize EV adoption.”

Kristin Parshay
SVP Finance

“I went to my local Mercedes Benz dealership to see the new C300 and saw a price tag as high as the Tesla Model Y. I asked myself why would I pay so much for a gas car, with expensive maintenance, when there is something better and more environmentally friendly? I got home and started looking at Tesla and found my car.”

Muhammad Khan
Senior Agile PM

Phase 3: Complimentary EV Employee Rentals

Another important aspect of Project Leapfrog was promoting EV adoption amongst Merchants Fleet employees. Hari Nayar, VP, Electrification & Sustainability has routinely said that the best way to sell someone on electric vehicles is to have them drive one for themself. For this reason, a fleet of EV vehicles was purchased for employee use. A variety of models are offered, including the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, Tesla Model Y, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Ford F-150 Lightning, Audi E-Tron GT, Porsche Taycan, and more.

Giving employees the opportunity to test the latest EV models is the best way to champion adoption across the entire organization. Putting a driver behind the wheel is the easiest way to eliminate concerns about range anxiety, see how fun-to-drive EVs actually are, and educate them on how simple it is to charge one up. Word about their experience driving EVs spread internally, to clients, partners, family, and friends. What could be specialist-level knowledge at another organization is commonplace at Merchants.

To process these free-to-use employee rentals, a modified version of Merchants’ FleetShare technology is used. This allows for rental scheduling through an iOS or Android app, and key retrieval and return through an automated lock box at Merchants Fleet headquarters. Employees are free to borrow any available vehicles for up to one week at a time, with the cost entirely covered by the company.

Phase 4: New Employee Reimbursement Policies Go into Effect

Employee demand for the EV rental fleet far exceeded expectations and Project Leapfrog was proof that it usually just takes one drive in an EV to understand why they have become such a popular option for new car buyers.

Merchants’ ESG Director, Ted Lague, took this as a cue to implement an EV-friendly reimbursement plan. Employees that make the move to a cleaner, emissions-free EV will get back up to $2,500 of their purchase price. To help ease the costs of home charger installation, Merchants offers partner discounts on popular level 2 chargers and will also reimburse $400 of the purchase price of the equipment.

Merchants Fleet employees have used over 80 MWh worth of electricity charging up their electric vehicles to-date. In 2022, Merchants used local solar renewable energy credits (SRECS) to match the electricity usage for every EV charger on our campus for the entire year, in addition to matching the electricity usage for the whole month of September at our headquarters.

The Future is Electric

Project Leapfrog was a resounding success – drive past the chargers at Merchants Fleet headquarters and they will almost always be filled to capacity during the workday. To accommodate the influx of new employee EVs, Merchants will be installing 39 additional level 2 and level 3 charging ports by the end of 2024.

In the two years since the project started, Merchants’ clients have driven millions of miles in EVs, with some of the most popular models being the Tesla Model Y, Ford F-150 Lightning, and Chevrolet Bolt EUV. EV adoption has led to the creation of new products to better meet the needs of electric fleets, including the ClearCharge™ suite of EV charging solutions, EV Rent-to-Lease to allow fleets to pilot the latest and greatest models, and EV Guarantee which eliminates any risk from your EV purchase or lease.